Matter, Energy, and Life of Michaela A. Castello.


It’s not only a name change: I’ve transitioned to female, and it’s for the best.

At this point, if you know me well enough to know this space exists, you probably noticed that I’ve been undergoing some changes over the past few years. Perhaps most obviously, I have a new name. It’s not merely a cosmetic change or a “preferred name,” it’s legal: in the eyes of the US Government and the State of California, I am a female named Michaela Anne Castello.

With Mark at his wedding.

I’m trans. This may come as no surprise to some. For others, it has been exceptionally challenging, and I’m sorry about that. I promise you, it is real. No one was more resistant to “doing something about it” than me. It has been one of my deepest, most intimate secrets for as long as I can remember. I planned on taking it with me to the grave, but I am still here, and the grave is not. It turns out that thirty years is a really long time.

I’m trans.

One problem is that for many people who have known me a long time, it feels like a retcon: “Hey, so all that time you knew me as a guy? Yeah, well, I was actually a girl.” How can I convince someone of an intrinsic struggle? Only I know my internal world and memories, which of course are highly prone to error. I’ve heard “explanations” ranging from sexual fetishism to parental trauma/rebellion to autism (been tested for that last one, do not have). In the end, all I can say is that this is something I have inherently known about myself since long before I had the language to describe it—I thought I was the only person like this in the world until I was about fifteen.

It is not a decision I made lightly; it has taken decades of my life, at least two failed commitments to never transition, and tons of therapy to get to this point. And now that I have…I would never go back for anything. If I had known how much better my internal life could be, I would have done this a long time ago.

I no longer hate the person I see in the mirror.

Unfortunately, there have been consequences, the worst being that Rachel and I are no longer together. We’re on excellent terms and are currently co-parenting our fur child, who, let’s be honest, likes Rachel’s house (and the attention he gets) way more than mine (where I’m always gone at work). Looking back through the archives, one might deduce that it has been quite some time since I was completely single. Rachel and I were married 13 years, together for 17, and have known each other for over 21 (if I’d waited two more years to write this, I could have gotten three prime numbers…missed opportunity).

In essence, in 2021 I lost everything I loved and cared about the most. However, I’m still here in 2023, and I no longer hate the person I see in the mirror, which is huge.

Michaela Anne Castello, MD, PhD

After much thought and deliberation about my name, I arrived at what is perhaps one of the most obvious ones. I was sure I wanted to keep my initials, and I haven’t had to change my signature all that much. The Anne comes from my mom—I wanted to honor her, plus it kind of flows from my former middle name of Annnnnnthony.

I know changing names and pronouns (she/her) is hard, and I’m sorry about that. These ones fit me much better though—you’ll see.

Sparkling for New Year’s Eve.

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